Clever Gardening Technique
Create a Terrarium
Looking for a project to keep you busy during those long winter days? Why not create a terrarium? It's relatively easy. You'll need the following supplies:
-- An air-tight container such as a large mouthed jar with a tight fitting lid, or an old aquarium.
-- Activated charcoal
-- Sterilized peat-based potting soil
-- Aquarium gravel
-- Plants of your choice
-- Decorative items such as small shells, stones, or pieces of wood
To begin the project, wash the container well and dry it thoroughly. Place a layer of small stones on the bottom of the container and add a layer of activated charcoal to help keep the soil sweet. Sterilized peat-based potting soil will be your planting media. Moisten it well and squeeze out excess moisture, then place it over the charcoal layer to a depth of at least 3 to 4 inches. You can create a landscape effect by making hills and valleys with the soil and using small shells, stones or pieces of wood for decoration.
Choose plants with smooth (non-hairy) leaves such as ferns, baby's tears, creeping fig, pilea or fittonia. (Plants with fuzzy leaves are prone to mildew and other fungal diseases.) Dig small holes in the soil and place the plants in them, firming the soil gently around the roots. Make sure that plants are not touching the sides of the container.
Place the lid on the container when you're finished planting and put your new terrarium in a bright area out of direct sunlight.
Terrariums require a minimum of care if they are kept sealed. The moisture that plants absorb from the soil is given off through the leaves by the process of transpiration. This condenses on the glass walls and runs down to moisten the soil again. The atmosphere also remains balanced through the combined plant processes of photosynthesis and respiration. A well-constructed terrarium requires only light and warmth to flourish.
Terrariums are fun to make and can become great gifts for your gardening friends.
Nature Crafts: 50 Terrific Things to Make with Nature's Materials, by Gwen Diehn & Terry Krautwurst (Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., 1997; $14.95), is filled with inspiration. I think it's just the book you need on hand when you're snowed in and looking for ideas to keep little hands busy. The 50 hands-on projects are all made with natural materials so you can touch, feel, smell, and see all kinds of things that nature offers throughout the year.